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Charles (Loss)

[2008-02-23-ROH-6th Anniversary Show] Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness

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The subtleties here that end up exploding at the end of the match made this unique. Danielson loved working with Nigel and both of them are receptive to how the other guy wants to lay out the match, which means there's some really great bits throughout that actually make it a lot more than your normal ROH-style main event, which Danielson loved to subvert anyways.

 

First thing here is when Nigel gets himself DQed and they get everyone from the locker room out to force him back into the ring. Wish they had actually had a visual restart instead of having it announced while they were going at it, but it still worked because it made Nigel an obvious heel from the start, which again detracted from the 50/50 stuff. That started the avalanche of heeling to follow, where it was obvious Danielson was whooping up on him and Nigel was going to have to change things up and the only way was for him to do something dastardly. The lariat to the side of the head where it hit Danielson in the surgically repaired eye and the headbutts after Nigel told Danielson he was weary of concussions totally made the match for me. The paradigm shift when Nigel hits the first headbutt because he knows he couldn't beat Danielson straight up and had to take shortcuts was great, as was the opposite when Danielson could have gone to the elbows and it cost him. It seems obvious now, but everything here was done in a way to totally turn the ROH style on its head in a way. Kudos to both guys for extending the feud out logically in a way that made Nigel an even bigger jackass and a top-flight heel.

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I had seen this before, but decided to check it out again based on the MOTD discussion going on today on the board. While, I don't think it reached a MOTD level for me, I do think it was really great. Some of the stuff Timbo noted above was helpful in understanding all that was going on, because I'm sure watching in context, and attached to the story back in the day, probably brought the emotion out a little more in this. Some of the things I loved about it were the rolling through German, the headbutts (and reason behind them noted above), and the final blow - that final elbow was some stiff shit. It looked great. I think I'd go ****1/2 for me, but I think if I watched the build and became more connected to it, it's possible it would go higher. It seems like there are some little things attached to the story that came into play, and some call backs that I was not privy to. Great match.

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I could just say that this is the greatest match of all-time and leave it at that. It's to me what Austin vs. Bret is to many people - the absolute apex of American professional wrestling. They go into it w/ a special agreement that Danielson won't target Nigel's head, because of the concussion Nigel suffered a few months earlier vs. Austin Aries. The fans had been slowly turning on Nigel in his time as the champ, and here the crowd was at least 95% on Danielson's side, with a few chants of "NIGEL!" here & there. The whole atmosphere is something special; the random yells of "you fucking PUSSY!" & "BITCH!" to Nigel throughout are amazing, and add to the whole package of the match. The match starts w/ your usual competitive wrestling between the two; Bryan does a great job doing his usual offense, but instead of targeting the head, he goes for the body instead. The turning point comes when Bryan hits a belly-to-back suplex & Nigel complains to the ref that he wants Bryan to be DQ'd, because he hit the back of his head there. The ref doesn't do that, so Nigel hits him to get the DQ he wanted. He leaves, but is greeted by Aries & other ROH wrestlers who are not letting Nigel disrespect the championship like that. I thought that added fantastically to the whole Anniversary Show atmosphere, and it was perfectly executed. The match gets restarted, and Nigel is angry & intense as hell, even more so than before; he does quite the number on Bryan's arm, which is vintage Nigel, but this truly was some of the best arm work he did during this run. Bryan's comebacks are absolutely terrific w/ him going after Nigel's mid-section, and the big one where he puts him down w/ punches to the body, teasing the 10-count KO finish was amazing. Nigel is starting to get desperate - he has done everything in his power to try & defeat the challenger, so what does he do next? He fucking HEADBUTTS Bryan! Maybe my favorite single match moment of all-time. Bryan's reaction to it is superb; not over the top in the slightest, he just sells the shock perfectly. Nigel keeps on headbutting Bryan - it's essentially the biggest dick move of all-time because of the "Bryan will not target Nigel's head because of the concussions he has suffered" clause, but also because of Bryan's bad eye, which Prazak & Lenny brought up brilliantly. The finish is simply perfect too w/ Nigel first killing Bryan with a brutal lariat & then busting out Danielson's own signature elbows against him - at that point Bryan is out of it, but Nigel in a true egomaniac moment still has to put him in the London Dungeon to get his first non-count out 1-on-1 victory over his greatest rival. It's perfect storytelling from start to finish, and the execution of it by both men is on another level. Like I said, THE greatest match of all-time in my eyes. *****

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ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness vs Bryan Danielson - ROH 6th Anniversary Show 2/23/08

Before the match, Danielson agreed not to attack the head of McGuinness, who has been struggling my concussion issues. They had been doing a slow burn heel turn for Nigel and finally exploded this night as everyone in the Manhattan Center thought he was being a chump. 

I really feel the dynamics of this match are far better with Danielson as the babyface and McGuiness as the heel. I really like how character driven this is. Danielson remains true to his word throughout the match and never attacks the head of McGuiness even thought he has plenty of opportunities. I always like when a heel wrestles the match straight at the beginning and only resorts to heel tactics when the match is slipping through his fingertips. They start with some of their chain wrestling which I thought had more struggle to it and Danielson clearly had a comfortable lead winning these exchanges. I really liked the callback where Nigel does the headstand in the corner, but this time Danielson dropkicks him in the chest instead of the head. Nice job! Danielson is kicking the back of Nigel and hits a back suplex, but all these shots rattle Nigel's head. I love this because Danielson is staying away from the head, but he cant help it a lot of strikes and suplexes will rattle the head. The fans get on Nigel's case for being overly sensitive. Nigel loses his cool and decks the ref to trigger the DQ. I really liked that spot. Austin Aires & Co. say they will not let Nigel disgrace the title like that and order him back in the ring. I like that it was wrestlers instead of an authority figure that did that. 

Nigel takes over on the restart, not the best transition, but the heel work on top is solid. He is working on the arm and he is doing a lot of jaw jacking with the crowd.  Danielson is very good at selling. Danielson strings together a couple moves, but Nigel ends up suplexing him from the apron to the floor. Nigel rocks him big time European Uppercut up against the railing. Danielson gets a desperation backdrop into the crowd and then hits his big springboard somersault into the audience. Great highspot! I really thought the rest of the match picked up in a big way from here on out. Danielson looked poised to capitalize in the ring when Nigel hits a big time lariat. Danielson does an incredible job selling the lariat. The insufferable ROH fans chant "Same 'ol shit!" and I roll my eyes. I will say the ROH announcers were really good. I was not expecting that at all.

The best spot in my opinion of the match was when Danielson goes for a suicide dive and Nigel hits a European Uppercut. Then Nigel summarily hits a Tower of London from the apron. I loved how they both sold, they both bladed especially how Nigel sold the head injury because of the force of his own blow. Since it was on the outside and they were selling, it made sense that Danielson could kick out. Nigel goes for Cattle Mutilation, but cant hold the bridge and Nigel misses his big rebound lariat, but he hits the one when Danielson is hung up on the corner. TOWER OF LONDON! 1-2-NO! Reverse Top Wristlock by Nigel. Danielson finally catches a break with Chaos Theory! Danielson cant capitalize he has taken too much punishment and his arm is just slung to his side. Danielson goes all Fujiwara on us with TREMENDOUS body shots and even busts out a Fujiwara armbar and then elbows to the body. All the while, Danielson refuses to elbow Nigel in the head instead he hits a Tiger Suplex. I really liked when Danielson told the ref to count Nigel for ten after a barrage of body shots. Danielson go home sequence was so great. He stayed away from highspots focused on strikes to the body and submission holds. The best part of the match by far is when Nigel uses headbutts to crack Danielson in his bad eye (Morishima match) repeatedly then elbows him in the head repeatedly in Danielson like fashion. I love that after all that shit was made about Nigel's head he used it as a weapon and went after Danielson's own injury. That is beautiful heel work. Danielson passes out in the reverse top wristlock.

Far superior to the Unified match. Great character work from both wrestlers. Danielson was a great babyface fighting from underneath trying to winning earnestly and respectfully. I can get behind that and really sunk my teeth into Danielson's quest to do it a specific manner. Nigel was a great heel he was a prick and he was great at all always selling his head.  Of course, the grand hurrah is that after all that stink, Nigel uses headbutts to attack Danielson's bad eye long enough to KO him with Danielson-style elbows to the head. Great finish. There are certain 2000s things that bother me (like people waiting to be hit with moves) and a lot of that is just Nigel's offense. Beautiful story with Nigel making a big stink about his own injury only to exploit Danielson's most famous injury is just excellent pro wrestling. ****1/2

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